The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises are recommendations addressed by Governments to multinational enterprises operating in or from adhering countries. They provide non-binding principles and standards for responsible business conduct (RBC) in a global context consistent with applicable laws and internationally recognised standards. The Guidelines are the only multilaterally agreed and comprehensive code of responsible business conduct that governments have committed to promoting.
The Guidelines cover a broad range of issues, including:
- due diligence in the supply chain
- human rights
- employment and industrial relations
- working to stop bribery
- consumer interests
- science and technology
All Governments adhering to the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises are required to set up a National Contact Point (NCP) to promote the Guidelines, handle enquiries, and provide a grievance mechanism to resolve cases ("specific instances") relating to non-observance of the recommendations of the Guidelines.
Read the Guidelines here: OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (PDF document, 1MB)
What are National Contact Points?
National Contact Points are established by governments. Their mandate is twofold: to promote the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, and related due diligence guidance, and to handle cases (referred to as “specific instances”) as a nonjudicial grievance mechanism. To date, 48 governments have an NCP for RBC.
Ireland’s National Contact Point
We are responsible for promoting the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises on responsible business conduct and for operating the complaints mechanism set out in the Guidelines.
The Ireland NCP is part of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.
Presentation by the Ireland NCP: Overview of the OECD Guidelines and details on the role of the NCP (PDF document, 841KB)
Making a complaint to the Ireland NCP
What are specific instances?
NCPs provide a mediation and conciliation platform for helping to resolve cases (referred to as “specific instances”) relating to non-observance of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises by companies. Any individual or organisation with an interest in the matter can submit a case to an NCP regarding a company operating in or from the country of the NCP.
NCPs have jurisdictional flexibility, which means they can consider issues that arise outside of the country they are based in and can also make decisions on which NCP should lead on a case. To date NCPs have considered issues arising in over 100 countries and territories.
Specific instances are not legal cases and NCPs are not judicial bodies. As such NCPs cannot impose sanctions, directly provide compensation nor compel parties to participate in a conciliation or mediation process. Dispute resolution through NCPs is intended to be consensual and focused on identifying constructive solutions and mutual agreement between parties.
OECD Flyer on Specific Instance Complaints (PDF document, 432KB)
Who can complain?
Any interested party can file a complaint. The complainant may be, for example:
- any individual, group, or organisation affected by a company’s activities;
- employees or their trade union;
- a non-government organisation (NGO).
A complainant may act on behalf of identified other parties.
The NCP will determine whether the issue is bona fide and relevant to the implementation of the Guidelines. In this context, the NCP will take into account:
- the identity of the party concerned and its interest in the matter;
- whether the issue is material and substantiated;
- whether there seems to be a link between the enterprise’s activities and the issue raised in the specific instance;
- the relevance of applicable law and procedures, including court rulings;
- how similar issues have been, or are being, treated in other domestic or international proceedings;
- whether the consideration of the specific issue would contribute to the purposes and effectiveness of the Guidelines.
A new case can be submitted to the Ireland NCP by email or by post.
Read the NCP's Procedures here: Procedures of the Ireland NCP for handling specific instance complaints brought under the OECD Guidelines
Ireland's NCP contact details
Ireland’s NCP is located in the Trade Policy Unit of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and can be contacted as follows:
Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment,
23 Kildare St,
Tel: +353 1 6312851
NCP peer review
What are NCP peer reviews?
National Contact Points can undergo voluntary peer reviews, which identify their strengths as well as areas for improvement. Peer reviews are facilitated by the OECD Secretariat and carried out by representatives of two to four different NCPs who conduct an on-site visit to the NCP under review, meet with government, business and civil society stakeholders and provide recommendations in a public report. A peer review will look at whether the NCP is functioning in a visible, accessible, transparent and accountable manner. It also explores whether the NCP handles cases in a way that is impartial, predictable, equitable and compatible with the Guidelines.
Peer review of the Ireland NCP
A peer review of the Ireland NCP is scheduled to take place in 2021.
OECD Due Diligence Guidance
Due diligence is a process business can carry out to identify and respond to real and potential negative impacts related to their own operations as well as throughout their value chains. In other words, it is the process by which business can both know and show that they are acting responsibly. Due diligence addresses actual adverse impacts or potential adverse impacts (risks) related to the following topics covered in the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises: human rights, including workers and industrial relations, environment, bribery and corruption, disclosure, and consumer interests (RBC issues).
OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Business Conduct
The OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Business Conduct is the first government backed reference on due diligence which is relevant for all types of companies operating in all countries and sectors of the economy. This Guidance represents a common understanding among governments and stakeholders on due diligence for responsible business conduct and can also be used by businesses to respond to due diligence expectations of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the ILO Tripartite Declaration of Principles Concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy.
OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Business Conduct (PDF document, 2.4MB)
Detailed OECD presentation on the OECD Due Diligence Guidance (PPTX document, 9.9MB)
OECD’s sector-specific due diligence guidance
In order to promote the effective observance of the Guidelines, the OECD has developed sector-specific due diligence guidance which helps enterprises identify and address risks to people, the environment and society associated with business operations, products or services in particular sectors, including in the agriculture, minerals & extractive, garment & footwear and financial sectors. The sectoral guidance establishes a common understanding among governments, business, civil society and workers on due diligence for responsible business conduct, and can enable business to build supply chain resilience, manage uncertainty and drive long-term value.
This Guidance complements existing resources developed by the OECD to help enterprises carry out due diligence for responsible business conduct in specific sectors and supply chains: OECD’s due diligence guidance for specific sectors
Specific instances submitted to the Ireland NCP
National Contact Point Reporting Questionnaire 2019 (PDF document, 1.1MB)
National Contact Point Reporting Questionnaire 2018 (PDF document, 966KB)